10 EASY Lunch or Dinner Ideas for Busy Families + Shopping List

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Back to school 2020 got you feeling overwhelmed? ME TOO!

Today I’m sharing TEN recipes that will take your lunch or dinner time from stressful to successful! Each of these recipes are cooked in ONE appliance which means less mess, less stress, and FULL tummies that are ready to learn! 

10 Meal Ideas & Get the →  Printable Shopping List + ALL 10 Recipes in your inbox!

Hey, I totally get it. I’m a mom of 8 we just wrapped up week 4 of having FIVE KIDS doing their virtual learning at home, and needless to say, it’s been stressful!

I know you’ve been feeling the same, so I decided to share these 10 easy lunch and dinner ideas that I’ve been personally making for quick at-home school lunches.

And to take it one step further, I have a SHOPPING LIST plus ALL the recipes in ONE printable document for you! 👏👏👏👇👇👇

You’ll get 6 instant pot recipes, 3 are air fryer recipes, and 1 recipe using your blender

1. Instant Pot Mississippi Chicken Sandwiches

This one is a spin off of the internet famous Mississippi roast. There is just a handful of ingredients needed and the result is soooo yummy! See it here!

2. Air Fryer Pizza Bagel Bites

We love using our air fryer for these mini-pizzas. But if you don’t have one, you can still toast them up in your oven. I love these because the kids can customize their pizzas with their favorite toppings. 

3. Smoothie packs

Here’s another fun idea… GREEN SMOOTHIES for lunch! You can pack these with veggies and protein and serve it alongside one of these meals, or use them as a mid-morning snack! My kids have been requesting green smoothies several times a week and I love how these smoothies make it EASY to incorporate veggies into their day. 

4. Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

These are so simple to make! I like to have some tomato soup on hand that the kids can just heat up in the microwave for a quick and easy lunch idea!  

5. Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Now how about some HOMEMADE mac & cheese! We’re making it in the instant pot because it’s SOOO hands off and low maintenance! And the results are fabulous! Scroll down to the bottom of this post if you want to print out the directions for this delicious Instant Pot Mac & Cheese.

Click to get the SHOPPING LIST and ALL 10 Recipes Now!

6. Instant Pot Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Up next, Instant Pot Chicken Gnocchi Soup! It’s a light and creamy refreshing soup and the gnocchi is so fun to eat and fits perfectly on a spoon! It’s another way to feed your kiddos some veggies and it all cooks up in your instant pot!

7. One Pot Chicken Lo Mein

Instant Pot Chicken lo mein

Chicken Lo Mein in the instant pot – say what!?! I have a few hacks to make this recipe SO SIMPLE and AGAIN… it’s packed with flavorful veggies and is so easy to throw together. I sound like a broken record, but I’m ALL ABOUT EASY!

8. Air Fryer Chicken Thighs 

Up next I’m going to show you how to use your air fryer to cook up some AMAZING chicken thighs! And we use this chicken for little chicken street tacos! Since it’s a taco bar, the picky eaters can choose the toppings they like and everyone is happy! It’s a nice low carb, healthy lunch or dinner that we LOVE!

9. Instant Pot 20-minute Chicken Burrito Bowls

Chicken Burrito Bowls are quick, fun, easy and versatile. I don’t typically add the green chilies, since my kids can’t handle too much heat. But this one is so easy because you likely have all the ingredients on hand!

10.  Instant Pot Meatballs

And LAST we’ve got Instant Pot Meatballs! This is sooo easy because you just buy a bag of frozen meatballs and add in a few ingredients. You can serve these alone OR over rice! They are truly a dump and go meal! 

I hope you have found these ideas helpful! Make these for lunch and dinner and you’ve got the next 5 days all planned out! EASY PEASY!

10 EASY Lunch or Dinner Ideas for Busy Families + Shopping List

5 / 5 (1 review)
Prep Time: 2 minutes | Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 6 cups | Serves: 8


  • Mac & Cheese Base

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2- 1 cups milk
  • Cheese blend:

  • 2 cup sharp
  • 1 cup medium
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 2-4 oz cream cheese cubed


  1. Turn instant pot to saute mode.
  2. Place 1/2 stick of butter in pot and melt.
  3. Next add broth, hot sauce, dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper and whisk together
  4. Then add 1 pound of pasta (4 cups dry or 453 grams)
  5. Don’t stir in the pasta, just tap it down so all the pasta is covered
  6. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes
  7. Then do a quick pressure release (which means you turn the valve so all the pressure/steam releases)
  8. Stir pasta then add 1/2-1 cup milk (I usually start with a half cup and add more if needed)
  9. Add cheese in handfuls and stir in between every few handfuls.
  10. Lastly, stir in cubed cream cheese and let rest until melted, just a minute or two
Ingredients: Butter, Cheese, Chicken Broth, Dijon Mustard, Garlic, Hot Sauce, Milk, Pasta
Meal Type: Main Dish, Recipe Roundup, Back to School, Fall
Categories: Meat and Poultry, Air Fryer, Instant Pot

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